The UK government has announced its intention to raise visa application fees on a significant scale. While the precise date of implementation remains uncertain, it is anticipated to occur in the autumn of 2023.

The suggested alterations will result in even greater expenses for employers who are hiring individuals from abroad and necessitate visas for working in the UK.

The changes include the following fee increases:

  • The application fees for work and visitor visas from the government’s core category will experience a 15% increase.
  • The fees for Certificates of Sponsorship, all other leave to remain, indefinite leave to remain, priority services and entry clearance applications are set to rise by 20%.
  • The main Immigration Health Surcharge rate will increase from £624 to £1035 per year. (For students and individuals under 18, the reduced rate will go up from £470 to £776 per year.)
  • For an approximate estimation, a 3-Year Skilled Worker visa application for an applicant will most likely exceed £7K with the revised fee structure, indicating an approximate 25% rise.

The upcoming modifications will lead to escalated expenses for employers hiring individuals from foreign countries, necessitating visas for employment in the UK. Employers can curtail costs by reassessing their recruitment strategies and financial plans. If feasible, they might contemplate advancing future applications before the implementation of the fee hikes. Furthermore, employers should explore the possibility of extending visa durations for recruits who apply before the heightened fees are enforced, thus evading elevated charges for avoidable renewals in the future.

Illegal Working Penalty Increases

Additionally, the Home Office has announced significant increases in civil penalties for unauthorized employment, with plans to implement these changes in 2024.

The civil penalty increases include the following:

  • The penalty for a first offence will increase from a maximum of £15,000 per unauthorized worker to £45,000.
  • The penalty for subsequent offences will rise from £20,000 per unauthorized worker to £60,000.

Employers need to establish robust protocols that align with Home Office directives to counteract unauthorized employment and guarantee they neither engage nor hire individuals without proper authorization. This entails conducting thorough right-to-work verifications for all employees, irrespective of their nationality. Additionally, those with a Sponsorship Licence must uphold heightened compliance and reporting responsibilities.


Can the surge in visa fees be waived for specific applicants?

Currently, no official provisions indicate that the surge in visa fees can be waived for specific applicants. All individuals applying for visas may be subject to the revised fee structure.

What steps can businesses take to ensure compliance with illegal working regulations?

Businesses can take several proactive steps to ensure compliance. These include conducting thorough right-to-work checks, maintaining accurate records, and staying updated on immigration rule changes.

How will the surge in visa fees affect students planning to study in the UK?

The surge in visa fees could potentially impact students’ decisions to study in the UK. Prospective students should carefully consider the financial implications before applying.

Are there any exceptions for employing family members within a business?

Employing family members within a business does not exempt employers from conducting right-to-work checks. All employees, regardless of their relationship, must have the legal right to work in the UK.